StubHub Unveils First-Ever Fan Optimism Index

StubHub’s newly created Fan Optimism Index uses the year-over-year change in fans’ behavior to measure how much more optimistic they are of their team than the calculated Vegas odds. While the Vegas over/under projections are strongly correlated with actual eventual results, fan buying behavior is not.

In layman’s terms, and for those of us who didn’t particularly excel at math, StubHub’s Fan Optimism Index represents the difference between the number of wins that fans are expecting their respective teams to have, based on their buying behavior, and the Vegas projections. The higher the index number, the higher the optimism.

Our index, created by former ESPN analyst and current Head of Analytics at StubHub, Ben Alamar, proves that there is so much more to fans attending games than wins. It’s fan comradery, team history, city loyalty, unique stadium traditions and the hope that this year is finally THE year. For fans, the overall experience of going to a game often outweighs the actual outcome. It goes to show that the most optimistic fans don’t necessarily need results to support their favorite team, they just need hope.

“There is a unique challenge in devising a formula to show something as immeasurable as fan expectation,” said Alamar. “A fan’s demand for tickets to experience their favorite NFL team live increases with the fan’s belief that his or her team is going to win games. The higher the index, the more wins expected by fans – and the higher the optimism.”

Now that everyone understands our index, drumroll please… The most optimistic NFL fan base of 2019 is… the Cleveland Browns! We’re not positive that these are the exact reasons why fans feel optimistic for the upcoming season, but we took our best guess.

1. Cleveland Browns: Optimism Index = 6.0

  • Cleveland fans have taken notice of the Browns’ offseason moves: trading for OBJ and promoting Freddie Kitchens to new head coach.
  • No need to remind the Dawg Pound that their 16-year playoff drought is the longest in the NFL, because Baker Mayfield is #FeelingDangerous in 2019.

2. Washington Redskins: Optimism Index = 4.0

  • Washington drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Redskins fans all simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief.
  • The Redskins have an exciting home schedule including games against the Bears and the Patriots… keep an eye out for the Hogettes costumes for those matchups.

3. Miami Dolphins: Optimism Index = 3.0

  • The Dolphins have a new head coach in Matt Flores and fans are already envisioning him leading the team out of the tunnel at Super Bowl LIV in their home stadium in February.
  • One word: #Fitzmagic! …but also they just traded for Josh Rosen so TBD on the QB situation but Fins Fans are optimistic either way!

4. New York Jets: Optimism Index = 2.5

  • The Big Apple had a Big Signing in Le’Veon Bell this offseason.
  • Taking Quinnen Williams as the third overall pick in the draft has Jets fans optimistic about an improved defense in 2019… hey, it can’t get worse, right?  

5. Arizona Cardinals: Optimism Index = 2.0

  • We’ve heard this before: the Cardinals select a quarterback in the first round of the draft. But this year is going to be different… right, Cards fans? They picked up Kyler Murray who they’re hoping will turn things around in Glendale in 2019.
  • New head coach Kliff Kingsbury signed defender Terrell Suggs in the offseason in hopes that veteran leadership + a new look at quarterback = wins. Rise Up, Red Sea.

6. Cincinnati Bengals: Optimism Index = 2.0

  • The Bengals have their first new head coach in 16 years, Zac Taylor, and fans are hoping he’s their 2019 savior.
  • Cincy drafted a quarterback in the draft and everyone loves a juicy, dramatic rookie vs. veteran quarterback battle, amiright WhoDey Nation?

7. Buffalo Bills: Optimism Index = 1.5

  • New rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver has Bills fans excited for more sacks in 2019.
  • #BillsMafia shows up in 5-degree weather. They’re ready.

8. New York Giants: Optimism Index = 1.5

  • Fan favorite Saquon Barkley is coming off his 2018 Rookie of the Year season, ready to keep the momentum going through 2019.
  • G-Men are keeping their fingers crossed that Eli can bring them back to the playoffs this year… and if he can’t, maybe the 2019 6th overall pick, Daniel Jones, can?!

9. Oakland Raiders: Optimism Index = 1.0

  • Fans are ready to fill the Coliseum for the final season in Oakland before the team moves to Las Vegas in 2020.
  • Raider Nation is hoping the future success of newly-signed wideout Antonio Brown and the Raiders’ three first-round draft picks will erase the memory of trading away Khalil Mack last year.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Optimism Index = 0.5

  • New head coach Bruce Arians came out of retirement to take over the reins in Tampa and Bucs fans are confident he’ll rejuvenate their squad.
  • The Bucs have missed the playoffs 11 straight years and Tampa Bay fans agree that there is no possible way it can go to 12.

There you have it, football fans: the top 10 most optimistic fans of the 2019 NFL season. StubHub salutes you for being steadfast in your fandom despite the current circumstances. Here’s hoping that this is YOUR year!

Ben Alamar, Head of Business Analytics at StubHub: An innovator in sports analytics for over 15 years, Ben spent four years at ESPN leading their sports analytics team as well as over seven years building analytics groups for NBA teams, including the Cavaliers and Thunder. While with ESPN, Alamar created ESPN’s World Fame Index. Additionally, he has done significant research in the field, taught, worked with several sports analytics startups, the US Olympic Committee and lectured at Columbia, MIT, and the University of San Francisco. Alamar wrote Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers which is used at multiple universities as a text for their sports analytics classes.

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